Bordeaux and the Dordogne — WAIT LISTED

Bordeaux and the Dordogne: Great Wine, Fine Cuisine, and History Come Alive

Led by Wendy Allen, Professor Emeritus of French, and Richard Allen, Professor of Computer Science

September 24–October 5, 2018


This program filled within a 48 hour period. I highly recommend you add your name to the wait list (there is no obligation), as it’s quite likely, this far from departure, that we’ll receive a cancellation. Contact Heidi Quiram, Study Travel Director, to add your name: or 507-786-3629.

This journey is for those who love history, wine, great cuisine, beautiful castles, and quaint villages.

Join us on a visit to Bordeaux and its surrounding wine country followed by an extended stay in the Dordogne region of southwest France. Bordeaux is the world capital of wine. Its historic center is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and it is home to the just opened Cité du Vin, a large modernistic wine museum located on the banks of the Garonne River. We will taste wine in four outstanding vineyards, including a world famous Grand Cru vineyard in Saint Emilion.

For our time in the Dordogne we will be located in Sarlat. The Dordogne is a region of rivers, forested hills, chateaux-studded countrysides, and beautiful medieval towns and villages, ten of which figure on the list of “the most beautiful villages in France.” The area is a history-lovers paradise with some of France’s finest prehistoric cave art, medieval and Renaissance castles and manors. Taken together, this incredible inventory of sites provides living history from 400,000 years ago through struggles between France and England in the Middle Ages up to the Renaissance. We will learn the history by visiting a number of sites that make this region a cradle of civilization. The incomparable history and the exquisite beauty will be topped off by savoring some of the best known cuisine in France.

  • Bordeaux and the Cité du Vin with lunch on the Garonne
  • Wine tastings at Chateau Carbonnieux, Chateau Suduiraut, Chateau Giscours, and Saint Emilion
  • Sarlat: a well preserved medieval town representative of 14th century France
  • Visits to prehistoric sites and museums: Cap Blanc, the National Museaum of Prehistory, Font de Gaume, Lascaux IV, Rouffignac Cave, and La Roque St. Christophe cliff dwelling
  • Visits to castles: Les Milandes, home of Josephine Baker; Castelnaud from the 12th century; and Losse with lunch in the Eyrignac gardens, a unique example of French topiary art
  • Visits to picturesque villages: Domme and les Eyziés for lunch, Saint-Léon- sur-Vezère, Montignac, Collonge, Saint-Amand- de-Coly
  • Ride in a gabare, a traditional flat bottomed boat on the Dordogne river
  • Rocamadour: a celebrated pilgrimage site to the Virgin Mary and a stop on the path to Santiago de Compostela

See the Itinerary.

Program Leaders   

Professor of French Wendy Allen and Professor of Computer Science Richard Allen custom designed this program based on their intimate knowledge of France, French history, and French gastronomy. Rich and Wendy led the Term in the Middle East for St. Olaf students in 2001-02, and the Global Semester for students in 2005-06 and in 2008-09. They have led two Study Travel Programs to Paris, one to Brittany and Normandy, and one to Morocco.

At St. Olaf since 1977, Wendy has taught courses in French language, culture and literature and has led numerous January Interim courses for students in France. Her particular areas of research include 17th-century French literature, contemporary France, second language acquisition and pedagogy. She has also been deeply involved with St. Olaf’s Foreign Languages Across the Curriculum program.

Richard came to St. Olaf in 1975 to create the computer science program and has been involved in that program ever since. For 25 years, Rich conducted research with French artificial intelligence teams in Rennes and Grenoble. He has spent three successive sabbatical leaves in France working on these teams. A result of his Middle East work is a course on Islamic geometric patterns that he teaches in Morocco for St. Olaf during January. An ardent Francophile, he visits France — in particular, Brittany — as often as he can. Rich and Wendy had a home in Brittany for twenty years.

What to Expect   

This program requires you to be able to walk a great deal each day, at a moderate pace. Excursions include walking on unpaved surfaces, uneven pavement, stairs, and hills, and a great deal of standing. Good balance is required. The program is not recommended for travelers with difficulties walking. For all excursions and transfers where coaches are involved, travelers have to board coaches with 3-6 steep steps.

  • Walking tours are at least 1½ to 2 hours, often over uneven pavement or on unpaved paths.
  • Many cities/villages have small sidewalks, uneven surfaces and rail tracks.
  • The program is not appropriate for very slow walkers or travelers who use canes or walkers or who need any wheelchair assistance.

The weather should be mild and pleasant during our visit, with lows around 60° Fahrenheit and highs in the 70s. Keep in mind that these are averages and that actual temperatures could vary by 5–10 degrees either higher or lower. We recommend bringing light layers that can be added or removed as needed throughout the day.

You should plan on seeing your family physician or a travel doctor at least four to six weeks prior to departure, preferably earlier, to talk about routine vaccinations. For more information on travel health, visit or

Program Fee   

The program fee is $3,986 per person. Based on double occupancy, it includes discussions led by Rich and Wendy Allen, the services of a national guide, accommodations, breakfast daily and group meals as listed on the itinerary, admissions for group activities, ground transportation (except at the beginning and end of the program), gratuities for group meals, drivers, and guides, and some limited medical travel insurance. For single occupancy, add $690.

Airfare between your home town and Bordeaux is not included in the program fee. Participants are solely responsible for all expenses not specifically included in the program fee. Examples of excluded expenses are: Airfare to and from France • Airport transfers at the beginning and end of the program • Any passport, visa, or immigration fees • Any recommended immunizations or vaccinations • Baggage insurance • Trip cancellation insurance above $2,000 lifetime coverage • Alcoholic beverages • Internet or phone charges • Gratuities to hotel staff.

Making your Travel Plans   

You should plan to depart the U.S. on Monday, September 24, 2018 in order to arrive in Bordeaux the following morning. Plan to depart from Bordeaux on Friday, October 5, 2018, likely arriving home the same day. More details about the recommended timing of flights home will be given to participants closer to departure.

Flights will be available in airline systems about 11 months prior to departure; however, you should not purchase non-refundable airfare until we can confirm the program has enough participants to go.

More Information and Important Documents   

See immunization or entry requirements.

Or check out our other Resources, including frequently asked questions, included travel insurance, general health information, and more.



Payment and Refund Schedule

Terms and Conditions

Release and Waiver